If you read our last article, we broke down what personalized learning and differentiated instruction mean, as well as the difference between the two. To recap, personalized learning is well summed-up by the teaching philosophy of Elementary School Teacher, Suzanne Brichaux: “Students can learn, not the same way or in the same time, but in their own way and their own time.”
The personalized learning philosophy emphasizes student agency in the way that they learn. ISTE explains that in a perfectly personalized learning environment, there would be a 1:1 teacher to student ratio, allowing for different learning depending on each student. However, since this is often not the reality, the next best thing is to use technology which allows the differentiation of instruction, assessment and expression of learning as well as the collection of student data. In particular, Edulastic can help teachers attain and maintain a personalized learning in your classroom. To sum up the ways this can be achieved, we’ve listed out 5 ways you can use Edulastic to turn your classroom into a personalized learning environment.
1. Allow students to see their individual mistakes and make corrections
Edulastic makes it very easy to create a personalized learning environment in terms of self-improvement. Students can get immediate feedback and see how they did on assessments. They can then make a note of areas that need improvement and even go back and fix their mistakes immediately. Edulastic makes it so much easier for teachers to personalize learning environments in this way; in fact, they barely have to try! Rather than teachers spending hours going over test results and trying to find student trends in errors, each student can instantly see their own results and teachers can immediately see where the most students are struggling.
2. Let students set their own learning goals
According to thought leaders on personalized learning, Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey, “In a personalized learning environment, learning starts with the learner. The learner understands how they learn best so they can become an active participant in designing their learning goals along with the teacher.” Edulastic plays into this idea well by providing feedback to students, allowing them to see where they need to improve.
Consider having individual conferences with students, potentially after a beginning of the year assessment, to go over assessment results, talk about how they best learn and what’s important to them, and set learning goals for the rest of the year. Learning goals don’t have to be a one-time thing; students can constantly be making goals, and use Edulastic assessments as one marker of their accomplishments of these goals.
3. Use formative assessments frequently.
Assessments can be great tools to learn, and should not only be used to grade and check what students have already learned. The personalized learning model emphasizes using assessments as learning (formative assessments), rather than only assessments of learning (summative assessments). Allow students to take assessments to learn, reflect on their results, and move forward rather than making the main point of assessments the grade. If the only time students take assessments are at the end of units to get a grade, they associate these tests with stress rather than learning. Consider using Edulastic to implement formative assessments during units and lessons, so students can pinpoint their own areas of improvement while they are learning the material, rather than after the unit is done. This will motivate students to learn the material more comprehensively while they are studying it, as many students are unmotivated to go back and re-learn material after a unit or lesson is already over.
4. Try the flipped classroom format
One idea that has been popular in the recent years is the flipped classroom, which works very well with Edulastic. Lance Key, teacher and instructional technology specialist, shared in his Sunday Spotlight, “I’ve been flipping my classroom for eight years now. I feel like that has been one of my strengths… a lot of kids grow that way and I get to work with my kids hands-on.
Similarly, 5th grade teacher Janet Kelly shared in her spotlight that her “Edulastic aha moment” was when she decided to flip her classroom. She went on to explain, “Several of the standards for which I am responsible to teach don’t require intense or whole group instruction during class time and can be taught through blended learning opportunities. With Edulastic, I am able to select specific questions for specific standards and assign them for homework. Based on the results, I am able to provide reteaching and small group instruction as needed.”
The flipped classroom format allows students to learn on their own, take as much or as little time as they need, and then come to the classroom and ask specific questions. The results of Edulastic assignments also provide valuable insight both to the individual student as well as the teacher who is able to then provide teaching or review in a more personalized way.
5. Let students go at their own pace
Another way to make your classroom more personalized is by allowing students to go at their own pace. This ties in to the last point as it works especially well with the flipped classroom format.
Lance Key said that one of the reasons he flips his classroom is that
“It’s self paced so they work until they get to a test or Edulastic assignment… I check their notes before they move forward to make sure they are ready for that. I have some students who are six chapters ahead of another student before the year is over. It’s also limitless. They can work as far as they want to. I have content built for pre-algebra all the way to AP calculus, so you know. I don’t believe in holding kids back. I believe in letting them go.”
This is easy to do with Edulastic as assessments do not need to be administered at the same time, so students can learn at different speeds and take assessments when they are ready. Read Lance Key’s Sunday Spotlight to see a touching story about a girl in his class who was passionate about math and way ahead of the rest of the class. Lance was able to use Edulastic to keep her actively engaged and provide assessments at her level rather than hold her back at the same speed as the rest of the class.
Of course, these are not the only ways to use personalized learning, both with Edulastic and without. The main idea when thinking about personalization is letting students learn in ways that work for best for them, involving their interests, styles, preferred speed, and more. Edulastic can be very beneficial for this goal in providing space for students to learn at their own speed and level and see specific feedback after assessments. As our world becomes increasingly more technologically integrated, we cannot wait to see what other possibilities there are for the education world and personalized learning!
Also interested in differentiated instruction?
Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey – Personalization vs Differentiation vs Individualization
Robyn Howton, ISTE – “Turn your classroom into a personalized learning environment”